A recent report has shown that the number of Australians working unpaid overtime has increased significantly during the covid-19 pandemic. The report can reveal that unpaid workers are missing out on an average $230 a week or $460 each fortnight.

 Across the country Australians are working an average of 6.1 hours of unpaid work each week. This ultimately adds up to eight weeks of free labour each year.

In the 12-month period before the covid-19 pandemic, Australians were working an average of 4.62 hours of unpaid work, this rose to 5.3 hours in 2020 and was higher again in 2021, at 6.1 hours.

These figures mean that over the past two years of the pandemic, there’s been a one-third increase to the average amount of unpaid overtime.

“Covid-19 has made the situation worse, indicating work-from-home does not necessarily improve work life in favour of employees,” says Dan Nahum the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work economist.

Mr Nahum outlined that there were many ways employees were racking up unpaid overtime including through arriving at work early, staying late, working through breaks, working nights and weekends, as well as taking calls or emails out of hours.

“Time-theft is rife and bosses are stealing record amounts of unpaid time from workers,” said Mr. Nahum.

Dan Nanhum that the findings from the report shows that Australian workers are currently taking home a smaller share of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) than ever before.

Across the economy, employees rack up about $125 billion dollars’ worth of lost income per year, which suppresses consumer spending and makes households feel less financially secure.

“If Australians want to stop this alarming theft of billions of hours of time, and hundreds of billions of dollars of income, policymakers need to strengthen workers’ power to demand reasonable, stable hours of limit, and fair payment for every hour they work. This is all the more important with so many Australians working from their own homes,” says Mr Nanhum.

Working from home has also seen an increase in surveillance with about 39 percent of employees surveyed saying their bosses monitor their activity, this includes via webcam or having their keystrokes recorded.

Another 17 percent of participants in the survey said that they were unsure whether this was happening.

The report which conducted between the 24th and 27th August 2021 and included the answers of 1604 Australian workers. One of the questions included “how many unpaid hours had they worked in the past seven day?”

The results uncovered that individuals working the most unpaid overtime on average were technicians and trades workers at 11.5 hours per week this was followed by managers 7.8 hours and professionals 7.4 hours.

The data gathered from the survey highlighted that the countries youngest workers were the most severely impacted by experiencing the highest percentage of underpayments, with workers aged between 18 and 29 years old working an average of 8.17 hours of unpaid overtime.

These workers were also most likely to want more hours of paid work, who felt they couldn’t say ‘no’ to their boss and worked in industries that are predominately casual such as hospitality and retail.

Dan Nanhum said it was an injustice that many Australians wanted more paid hours at the same time as contributing free labour to their boss.

The problem even impacts those working in part-time and casual positions, with about half of these saying they wanted more paid hours.

Despite this, those working part-time were giving away more than 4.5 hours a week, and casuals were working more than 5 hours for free.

“These are worker efforts that should end up as wages in someone’s pocket, not a boost to a profit column,” said Dan Nanhum the Australia Institute’s Centre for Future Work economist.

The team at C&D Restructure and Taxation Advisory are here to help. As part of the Vault Group we can offer the full suite of financial products and advice to help you navigate the business landscape. Schedule a meeting here via Calendly or give us a call on 1300 1 VAULT (1300 182 858)

Post Author: Craig Dangar

Leave a Reply